Does Wearable Tecnology belong in a Jewelry Store and if so how do you prepare for it?

This week London Jewelers announced that they will be selling the I Watch in two of their locations. If you know me, you know I have been saying for a while that this is the direction that the jewelry industry has to go. When I read this article, my first thought was “it’s about time”. I wrote an article on this topic not so long ago. I am posting it here because I truly feel that this is such a great opportunity for retail jewelry stores to start recapturing consumer spending dollars that are going to other luxury items, outside of jewelry.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, both Richline and Swarovski announced partnerships with tech companies to introduce jewelry lines. Then in June, at the JCK show, Richline hosted a wearable technology event. It was a wonderful showcase of the here and now, as well as the future yet to come. In the past, most articles and discussion centered around watches, the IWatch and Samsung leading the charge. However, wearables are branching out beyond just watches. For years we have had discussions around the water cooler regarding the fact that our competition has extended beyond the jewelry store down the street. Our competition has been coming from limited consumer spending dollars going to other industries, primarily the electronic industry. So here we are at a crossroad. Will we allow the electronic industry to enter the jewelry industry, or will we take charge and lead in this arena?
What do we do as retail jewelers to prepare for this?
1. Don’t take it for granted! – I have spoken to many jewelers about this subject. The responses I get are anywhere from, “we don’t sell watches”, to “Is there really ‘jewelry’ being produced?”. Well if the CES show in Las Vegas in January is any indication, yes it is more than just jewelry. Get educated, read up and start looking at wearables as a new product category for your store.
2. Train and consider getting staff that understands this product. – So now you have decided to get into wearables, great! BUT remember this cannot be sold like all your other jewelry. You need to make sure that the staff is trained in how to work with this product. You will start getting questions such as “how do I sync this to my Iphone?”. Be prepared to have the lead staff person in charge of wearables be able to not only discuss, but help your customer out. If you don’t you will just be opening the door for Best Buy to gain your customer. Think about hiring a new type of staff person for this job, yes perhaps a little younger.
3. Consider how you are merchandising the product. – Dedicate the space and resources for this product category. Just bringing in one watch and putting it in your watch case will not work. Dedicate a section in the store for wearables. Make it hip and promote it. No reason your customer should be going down the street to check out the newest and greatest wearable device, they should think of you first!
4. Learn more about it. – Go to upcoming trade shows and learn more about these products and the market.

Just 10 years ago I doubt any of us would have dreamed of having this conversation. A watch that can monitor your hearbeat? A ring that can answer your phone? Who would have thought. But here we are in a new age. And as an industry we have the opportunity to become relevant again to a whole new generation, make sure you grasp the opportunity and make the most out of it!

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